tv Today in Washington CSPAN May 16, 2012 2:00am-6:00am EDT
her family, they had three girls. the officials demolished the home and took their belongings. two years later, her mother began gave birth to a girl. her father fled from the planning officials leaving the three girls in the care of their grandmother. the official, and killed the grandmother in 2002 and left them without a guardian. a man broke into the room and raped the 12-year-old. they managedded to get release. the rapest, meanwhile, was sentenced to a mere five days in detention. within three years, she was sold
as a bride to a man twice her age. her sisters were also sold by traffickers that have not been found as of today. when a german reporter and chinese volunteers found the father last november he told them that they turned them into a prostitute to earn income for him and beats her frequently and sold her body to bachelors in that area. she roamed the mountains for over a week, sometimes before returning to the house. remember, all of this was set into motion by the enforcement of the one child policy upon this family, and the lack of value assigned to girls and women in china. a second story is in last october. officials dragged her into a van.
mr. campbell, you are still on oath from your hearing on the 13th of november. i told you you'd be back, yes? you provided us kindly with a second statement dated the 30th of april of this year. and you confirm its contents is true, do you, mr. campbell? >> yes. i'm going to deal with this by way of theme, if i may, mr. campbell. first of all, mr. blair hiring you in 1994, we have one version in your diary. another version which is very similar in mr. blair's book. the journey, page 75. he considered you as part of a short list in discussion with mr. mandelson.
do you remember that? >> no, i wasn't involved in that discussion. >> right. it's unlikely given they were wondering whether you were the right person. and mr. blair said he wanted a tabloid person and thought alastair campbell would be the best. did he discuss that with you in terms of the needs for a tabloid person? >> no, what he said to me when he finally approached me was that he wanted somebody that was strategic, that understood the press and that would be able to do the job he wanted done. so i don't recall that being particularly he wanted somebody who was from the tabloids, but he wanted somebody who knew that world. >> by that stage, of course, you'd been political editor of the mirror for a number of years, hadn't you? >> i had been but at that time i was editor on today. which was then owned by news. >> according to mr. blair, i
wanted -- i thought he was good. what i got was a genius. not asking you to comment on, but the hard knot is obviously some attribute which would be desirable in that place, wouldn't it? >> i think it's possible for somebody who is not necessarily a hard nut to do part of that job but i certainly think that the way the press and the media were developing, you had to be pretty robust. and not shy of engaging in difficult debate. >> in effect, you were head hunted. there were discussions with mr. blair in province, in mid-august. you talked half the night alone with you and did the deal. he said i gave -- that's mr. blair -- gave what assurances i
could on peter. do you remember anything about that? >> yeah, i was -- i mean, he asked me to do the job. i said no a couple of times, and then i -- he asked me again, and i went on holiday and said i'd think about it. then he turned up on holiday. one of the concerns i had was actually that there would be two rival media operations going on. and i wanted assurances that wasn't going to happen. >> mr. blair says he was already anxious about gordon's people. is that the rival you are referring to? >> no, i meant when you talked about peter, i meant whether peter mandelson would, in a sense, de facto, want to do the job that tony blair was asking me to do. as it happens, although peter and i had our ups and downs from time to time, by and large, most of the time we worked well together. in relation to gordon's people there was a sense he had his own -- his own team, his own
operation. i am very much a team player. and i want it to be clear that i'd be able to on the communications side of things to lead that team. >> nice portraits of you and mr. mandelson. peter would slip into the castle through a secret passageway and by nimble footwork and -- cleave his way to the throne room. >> this is tony's book? >> yes. and you, meanwhile, alastair would be an old battering ram destroying the castle gates and neither boiling pitch nor wind-forced doors would keep him out. that's not bad, is it? >> yeah, well -- >> he had great clanking balls as well. >> right. >> let's move on. did you sign a confidentiality agreement when you took this post in 1994 or subsequently in
1997? >> i can't -- i don't think i did. i signed -- i mean, i was covered from 1997 by the official secrets act. i can't remember if i signed a confidentiality agreement in opposition. >> in 1997, after the first of may, you entered downing street. can you remember whether you were vetted or not? >> i was. >> can you remember when you were approximately? >> i can't remember exactly when, but i can remember being told early on i would have to be. i mean, for example, very early in tony blair's first -- we were very big into the northern ireland situation. that was obvious. i was very much a part of that. so i can't remember exactly when -- i remember being interviewed in my office. i could probably find out a date for you, if i may be in one of those large number of books that you have on your desk there, but
i can remember being told early on that i would have to go through what they call the dv process. >> yes. it might have been said that that was owing to the circumstances in which you immediately found yourself, namely close to documents relating to northern ireland? >> no, i think it was just assumed that i would have to be because of the -- in the transition, the their had been these discussions with robin butler who was at the time the cabinet secretary. jonathan powers but going to be chief of staff. i was going to be press secretary. i think it was assumed we would be involved in all the kind of sensitive policy areas that tony blair was going to be taking charge of. so, for example, we were very quickly we were president of the european union. there were lots of nato issues going on. so i think there was an assumption from the word go that i would be. >> i think what i was trying to
ascertain. it may be very difficult to differentiate this, whether there was a reasonable principle which caused you to be vetted or a series of obvious circumstances which rendered it desirable. i'm not sure it's possible to say which, is it? >> i think it was the former. i think it was the former. i think there was -- i think it was made clear to jonathan powell and me that we would have to go through that process. >> okay. the next is the murdoch press when you look at paragraph nine of your statement, which is our page 07 -- sorry 00795. >> yeah. >> in essence you explain that it was a neutralization strategy, but you ended up doing well the better than that. it sums it up, doesn't it? >> yep. >> the reasons from your perspective are pretty obvious. evisceration by the murdoch
press during the -- years linger over the 2002 election results. cause and effect could never be clearly established. is that right? >> yep. >> and then the iconic status of the sun. did you feel in 1994 to 1997 that the sun did occupy such a status or not? >> no, not really. i think they very clefrlly marketed themselves as having such a status. and i think that -- i mean, i say elsewhere in my statement about there was a kind of sense of hierarchy in which paperses were more important than others. and i think "the sun," i wouldn't call it iconic, but it was a significant player. and i think within the media marketplace, rupert murdoch then had probably within the press a greater share and greater power than perhaps he does now because of all the changes that have happened with television and internet, social media and so forth. >> put another way, was it
particularly important for you, either to neutralize "the sun" or best to win it over, even if the word iconic may be putting it in a -- >> that was certainly one of the things that eye one of the things we discussed that night in france, and it's one of the objectives that i set myself. yeah. the neutralization strategy in a sense was to counter the influence i had seen as a journalist who supported the labor party and to try to ensure that we had a more level playing field where we could communicate to the public what we were trying to do and the changes we were trying to make. >> in terms of which paper was the biggest prize in terms of either neutralization or best obtaining its report.
did the sun fall into that category? >> it probably felt into the category of the only one that might, as it were, shift position. i couldn't of ever have imagined the daily mail. our approach vis-a-vis the daily mail was to stop them being quite so vile. our approach with papers like "the express" would have been to engage with them, but i would never have expected "the express" to come out for the labor party. and the broad sheets were in a slightly different space. the mirror -- i worked for the mirror for years. i couldn't imagine it not supporting the labor party. so the sun in a sense was the only one in this rather odd space. >> but i was -- although we set ourselves that objective, i don't -- i think if you'd have asked me in 1994, did i think the sun would back us in 1997, i probably would have said no. >> did you regard having to deal with mr. murdoch and his press
as a necessary evil? >> well, i think it was part of the job. it was part of my job to help tony blair communicate to the public and part of that was through the media. rupert murdoch, there's no point denying is the single most important media figure. and it would have been foolish on our part not to have sought to build some sort of relationship with him. >> did you regard having to deal with him as a necessary evil? >> well, i don't like the word evil in relation to anyone. but i saw it as a part of my job, and i saw it a part of what we sought to do. i mean, i often -- as again is clear from my diaries, it was often when i didn't particularly like having to do it. and at times nor did tony blair. i think there were various points in my diary where i say
we -- including just before the election, i have written about this at some length in my witness statement where the sun asked for a piece about europe and we talked about whether to do it and we didn't in any way change policy, but we knew kind of what they wanted. and i did feel a little bit uneasy at times. but there's no point pretending tony murdoch is not an important person in the media landscape. we dealt with him as has been well documented by all of us. >> the diary entry of yours for the 29th of january, 1997, t.b. was due to see murdoch on monday and said it angered him the meeting mattered. but it did. so that suggests -- that may be putting it too high but still a degree of distaste. would that be closer to it? >> yeah, at times, yeah. >> and also the perception rightly or wrongly that the
meeting did matter because it was part and parcel of winning over his support? >> yep. >> might be better rather than to say necessary evil to say necessary obligation rather than something you went about because you wanted to do it. >> there wasn't an obligation. we didn't have to do it. we could have chosen -- the labor party for some years after the dispute had nothing to do with the murdoch papers whatever. we made an active choice to change that approach and in the diary, he's not happy about that at times. so we made a choice, and the choice was that part of the -- if you like -- part of what new labor was trying to do was show there was no part of public opinion we were scared of. no part of public opinion we didn't think we could take our message and in opposition, getting your message through to the public is hard, if you don't have access to the press. >> isn't that a little bit why it was actually, for you, and the perception you had, an
obligation? >> i'm not saying by that that it was something you couldn't not -- >> okay. i infer from obligation a sense of duty. i don't think we had the duty to do that. i think particularly it would have been -- it would have been lacking good sense not to have done it. >> it's the relationship that -- and the perception of the significance of the relationship that actually runs through the whole thing, isn't it? >> yeah, yeah. >> given that mr. murdoch was not quite in the same place politically as new labor, did not a very factor trying to obtain his support entail to making compromises by new labor? >> i don't think so because i don't think as it were, we went out to him and said rupert would really like you to back this. and i say in my statement, far more important. and this isn't just about murdoch. because murdoch is the biggest figure and because the phone hacking has led to this inquiry.
there's been a huge amount of focus on him. this goes right across the media panoply. we had strategies for all of these papers. and we had approaches out to all of these. but i certainly think with mr. murdoch, for example, you asked me in the questions in advance about the visit to the cayman island. it gave us an opportunity to, in a sense, use that event as a broader public platform and it gave us an opportunity to set out for a huge number of editors and execute ifr ives from aroun world what new labor was about. i think it would have been crazy not to do that. >> did you have any previous dealings, as it were, with mr. murdoch when you worked for today because that was -- that paper was then in the murdoch stable, wasn't it?
>> essentially we turned today from a broadly right of center paper to a broadly left of center paper and i don't ever recall rupert murdoch interfering on any level with what we were trying to do there. obviously, he spoke to richard scott from time to time, but -- and i would compare that with, for example, when i worked with robert maxwell who did have a fairly interfering approach. >> when we move forward into '95 and you begin to have personal dealings with mr. murdoch, you are doing that really from without much prior experience of him is that right? >> yeah. >> paragraph nine of your statement, 00795, you say about eight lines down that you believe the sun backed us because they knew we were going to win. we did not win because they backed us. >> yeah. >> it's part of the thinking there that mr. murdoch likes to
back winners or not? >> yeah. look. i think rupert murdoch has very, very -- he has a very strong set of political beliefs. he's fundamentally right wing on most issues. i think he's somebody who -- he's a news man. he's very, very interested in stories. he's interested in powerful people. but i think there is a sense that he likes to back winners. and i think -- as i said to you this morning it was by then, fairly obvious that we were probably going to win the election. but i do think sometimes that this point about the perceived power that people talk of newspapers that dictate elections, i just don't buy it. the last election, david cameron had the endorsement of, you know, virtually all of the newspapers and didn't get a majority. so i think we've got to be
careful about this. where i think they have an influence is in the establishment of an overall agenda in which the political environment and debate then plays out. >> let me just ask you to comment on a paragraph in mr. powell's book which is page 190. he's giving his perception of what was happening at this time. our primary target was rupert murdoch and tony went out of his way to woo him. do we agree with that? >> i don't like the word woo, but he was certainly the most important media player, without a doubt. >> and then mr. powell continues, i've been told by the sunday timss correspondent in washington that the american economist and columnist irwin steltzer was a confidante of murdoch in the best way into him. do you agree with that? >> no, i think the best way into rupert murdoch was via rupert murdoch. >> well, maybe mr. powell is
putting it just a notch too high, but if mr. murdoch is not available, the best way to mr. murdoch -- i think he's suggesting is there mr. steltzer. does that overstate it or not? >> i think it probably does. i think from where we were in the uk, steltzer is a very clever, very close to rupert murdoch. but so were quite a few other people that we dealt with on almost a daily basis. people editing newspapers here. all sorts of people. >> one would certainly have to add to the list other individuals, is that correct? >> yeah. >> tony struck up a friendship with irwin that lasted throughout his time in government, and he helped tony win over murdoch. is that true or not? >> it may be. it may be, i think it's true that irwin steltzer became someone that liked tony blair, liked what new labor was doing, and probably was part of the discussions that were going on
within that particular newspaper group. but i think we were always conscious that in terms any of decision that there would been who they would back in the 1997 election, that would be -- that was a decision that would ultimately be made by one man. >> mr. powell talks about the trip to hayman island which we all know about. and continues, tony put great efforts into maintaining the relationship right throughout his time in government and thereafter. >> yeah. and the issue of any trade-offs, mr. campbell, this is paragraph 49 of your witness statement. age 0083. can i deal with it bluntly in this way. are you able to assist the
inquiry from your own knowledge of any evidence which would suggest that an express deal was made between mr. murdoch and mr. blair or mr. blair's government? >> i don't think there ever was such a deal. >> can we be clear, mr. campbell, what that answer is based on? i'm not asking you to comment. i'm just asking you from your own knowledge. if you knew of such a deal, you would tell us because i've asked you to tell us. do you have any evidence of such deal? >> no. absolutely not. >> in terms of the possibility of implied trade-offs for unspoken supplications. paragraph 49, you refer there to the -- i think we probably asked you to look at the big, bad comment which is mr. paul keating who is then the labor prime minister in australia, wasn't he?
>> yeah. >> you cover this in your diaries, volume 1 pages 247 and following. you set out part of the citat n citation. page 247. on the 16th of july 1995, on murdoch, he told t.b., he's a big, bad bastard and the only way you can deal with him is to make sure you can be a big, bad bastard, too. you can do deals with him without ever saying a deal is done. but the only thing he cares about is his business. and the only language he respects is strength and then a little bit later on you say if he thinks you are a winner, he prefer to be with you than
against you. >> yep. >> obviously, mr. campbell, you weren't taking notes while this conversation was going on, but you record it that evening in your diary. how does it come about when we see it in inverted comments? >> i mean, i did actually quite often take notes in meetings. but that -- i can remember that -- i can't remember exact words in that conversation, but i can remember paul keating's advice very clearly. and it was -- it was good advice. i think he said later, he said you have to -- this is keating again. you have to remember with rupert, it's all about rupert. rupe cert number one, two, three and four as far as rupe cert is concerned. they overestimate the importance of their support for you, but if you can get it, have it. if you are labor you need all the help you can get to win elections. this is paul keating. he's had some considerable
experience of dealing with rupert murdoch. >> yes, that's a page 249. the last paragraph, really, for the entry for that day. >> yeah. >> the difference today, overestimating the importance of their support for you, the they is a reference to the murdochs, is it? >> yeah. >> i think that relates to the point i made earlier. i think newspapers do overstate their own importance, and i think politicians overstate it as well in terms of endorsements of elections. >> just mr. keating's, you can do deals with him without ever saying a deal is done. was he suggesting there, it's done on a nod and a wink or was he suggesting something else? >> no, i think what he's saying there is actually explained by what he goes on to say in that he's -- he needs to know, is the big bad bastard point, he needs
to know that you can be as tough as you need to be. and i think that -- you see, again, i think in relation to this whole area of policy, for me, there's been all this focus on our media management techniques and so forth and, you know, endless books written about it and so forth. i don't think it's that important. what would be wrong is if there ever were the kind of trade-off that you were talking about. and i don't think there's any evidence of such a trade-off. and on the contrary, i think that if you had talked to people who worked at sky, they would -- i think they would argue that rupert murdoch's political profile and the sort of general media neurologist surrounding him led to decisions being made with greater scrutiny upon sky than might have been other companies. i mean if you just look at the big policy decisions we took, the biggest in the media sphere
was probably the rise in the bbc license fee. now they weren't terribly happy about that. i think mr. murdoch said in his evidence, not happy about that. he tried to take over manchester united and was blocked. the digital takeover, digital search, there were differences. itv, channel 5. lots of areas where you'd be hard pressed to say that the murdochs were -- and the murdoch businesses were getting a good deal out of the labor government. >> just to what mr. keating was saying, wasn't he simply saying this, that unless mr. murdoch thinks that you, too, are a big, bad bastard, there's no point even thinking you can do a deal with him because he'll think that you're weak. the way he operates are through implied deals. isn't that the message mr. keating was trying to get across to you? >> i don't think so. i think he was saying -- what he says in that broader context that i've set out in the
statement. but i certainly think that the rupert murdoch would have been -- might have been thinking that historically, he'd have, for obvious reasons, this very, very difficult relationship with the labor party. it looked like there was going to be a labor government. historically our policy positions would in a sense have gone after the murdoch empire, cl weather it was cross media ownership or whatever it might have been. so my point is that i never was witness to and don't believe that anything that was ever a discussion that said now tony if you do this and you do this and you do this, my papers will back you. it just never happened. and i also think, as i've gone through some of the issues that tony blair went through these and the government went through these issues on their merits. >> okay. now i come to the issue of an
implied tradeoff. paragraph 13 of your statement. you deal there with the sun in 1997. before i come to that, do you agree with mr. price's view, this is mr. lawrence price, that plans to limit cross media ownership in a way which would have restricted murdoch's empire had been quietly dropped by the labor party within six months of blair's visit to australia in 1995? >> we changed the policy. we changed the position. >> noisily dropped then. >> well, i think lance was trying to kind of feed into and play up to the idea of some sort of conspiracy. there was none. tony blair wasn't terribly keen on the cross -- the cross media policy we had up until then. i set out in my statement what
his general position was with regard to cross media ownership. >> so the atribution of cause and effect, which mr. price sees in the sequence of events you don't believe is correct? >> no, i don't. >> do you have any discussions with mr. blair about the change in cross media ownership policy? >> i must have done. must have done. >> did he mention in any way the impact the change might have or more exactly the existing policy would have had on the murdoch press? >> not that i specifically recall, but it would certainly have been a factor. it would have been a factor. >> so the change in policy was beneficial to the murdoch press, and that was part of the thinking, was it? >> no, what i mean by -- a part of his thinking would be, in any
policy making process, part of your thinking will be about how this will be perceived, written up and so forth. but tony blair's view on cross media ownership was that he was not in favor of changes in the position on cross media ownership that would lead to the closure of titles. he was in favor of trying to broaden the market and open up the market to new media owners. so it was a principle policy position that just happened to differ from the one we'd held when neil and -- was leader of the labor party. >> okay. can i deal with the sun piece in 1997 which you refer to in paragraph 13. i think we saw this with mr. murdoch himself.
the actual piece which mr. blair wrote shortly before the 1997 election. was in march 1997. it was made clear to me by the editor that if mr. blair were to emphasize the point that there would be no entry into the euro without a specific referendum on the, that he understood people's fears about so-called european superstate. it was likely to be the final piece of the jigsaw before mr. murdoch agreed the paper would back labor. you describe that as purely a question of rhetoric. but wasn't that specifically a matter of policy or at least something which mr. blair did which he would not otherwise have perhaps wanted to do? >> no. in terms of -- the policy was already set. the policy was set. and we did have a discussion. i remember we did have a discussion about whether it was sensible to do this piece at that time.
and as i say, i go on to say that it was fantastically irritating on one level. we have to go through these kind of routines. we'd be daft not to try it. i don't think we did change policy. i will admit to being a little queasy about the -- i think the headline was why i love the pound. and it was -- so i was a little queasy about that. i will be honest about that. but i don't think on policy anything was ever traded with rupert murdoch or with any other media owner. so there's an example of where the sun, mass selling newspaper, coming up to an election campaign is giving us half a page to set out our issue which is important, probably more important to the paper than it is to their lereaders. and we took that opportunity. i think it would have been crazy not to. >> you have to remind me, mr.
campbell. was it part of the labor party manifesto in 1997 that there would be a referendum before the united kingdom entered the euro? >> yeah it was -- i think i'm right in saying it was one of the five pledges. >> i'm not saying this is ancient history because it isn't. it is 15 years ago and we're trying to remember. the article in the sun which i think was in mid-march 1997, that, obviously, post dated the 11-party manifesto, did it? >> i can't remember where we are. by this time, everybody knew we were committed to referendum. i'm pretty sure of that. >> so even if the manifesto had not been published, it would have been written six weeks or so before the general election? because we know the election was the 1st of may in '97. >> i'd have to go back and check exactly what was in the manifesto and when that was -- the manifesto would be published after this. certainly the campaign hadn't been announced.
but i automatic-- i don't think announcing anything new in this piece at all. >> okay. >> so you were to characterize what happened as perhaps slightly irritating. if not causing a degree of discomfort. but amounting to no more than rhetoric because it didn't amount to policy change. >> can i ask you please about -- >> can i just -- can i say there that there may well have been positions, situations with either relation to the sun or other newspapers where the prime minister would give in to use articles of speech where he might set up policy changes and pass any policy change you are trying to get it communicated through the press. i'm making a point about this one, that this is an area where i say we were meeting them with rhetoric and it didn't. therefore, there was no sense of any trade-off implied or
unimplied. >> the media set issue -- >> yep. >> troubled mr. murdoch. and it's clear that mr. prody made the call at the end of the day. can i just ask you about one entry in your diary, volume two, the 1st of april 1998. page 338. >> yeah. he said he didn't fear them coming at him about me, but about the relationship with murdoch. political knives were out for you at that time, weren't they? >> they were. >> i'm not sure this inquiry need go into that. we're more concerned with the underlying point.
and then you say, and he, that's mr. blair, didn't fancy a sustained set of questions about whether murdoch lobbied him. >> yeah. >> so that's a paraphrase of the conversation you had with mr. blair, is it? >> yeah. >> why didn't he fancy such a sustained set of questions? >> because the -- i think i've quoted in my statement the -- what i said at the briefing on this. i said in a number ten briefing, the conversation with prody covered a range of issues. it had been agreed neither side would brief on it. this had been honored. the ft should not use an anonymous italian official to stand up a story that was wrong. of course, if asked, we would always say the pm spoke up for british firms. it would be real odd if he was the pm of britain and did not. this did not stand up the story and talk about the prevention in this way was simply wrong.
it did lead to a considerable frenzy this one. and i think we possibly could have handled it differently. and the call from prody was not about this. was about something completely different, and prody asked for us not to brief on it. the ft then ran this story, and i refused to accept that this was intervention as they were presenting it. and what -- i think what tony blair is saying is that he was worried, actually, that that was -- standing up in the house of commons, sustained set of questions about why is this not intervention? i think he found that difficult. i've said in my statement, i was less concerned because i felt my statement it would be odd if the prime minister did not stand up for companies. in the briefing, journalists pointed out that my statement did not amount to full denial to which i responded i was not adding to the statement. and it's true. it was not a full denial.
>> maybe mr. blair's concern was based on how all this appeared. >> by then it was a full-blown 24 carat frenzy. and it's one of those -- it's tricky because rupert murdoch had mentioned this company to the prime minister. and the prime minister, as i recall, we did have a discussion about whether there was anything wrong with him raising it. and then he didn't raise it until this another this phone call came along and he mentioned it and prody said to the words of the effect that murdoch is waf wasting his time and i don't think it went any further. >> but the origin of all of this kerfuffle was an express request by mr. murdoch, presumably made referring to the prime minister to intervene in a certain way. >> no, i don't think -- he was trying to establish whether
words to the effect he was wasting his time trying to get into the italian marketplace. >> but even if it wasn't to intervene in a way which would necessarily produce direct results, at least to ascertain how the italian marketplace looked, should he put his toe in the water. that's what it amounted to, wasn't it? >> i wasn't privy to the call that he had and nor until this story blew up was i privy to the call with mr. prody. but i stood on that line for over several pretty lengthy briefings that i will refuse to accept that was an intervention the way it was being presented by the "financial times." that's where the delft came in because the press said it was an intervention, and i can see why. but, you know, sometimes these situations, you hold a line and that's what we did. and in the end, nothing came of it. >> you would have been an
intervention if mr. murdoch was seeking an express regulatory favor, which clearly he wasn't. but he was seeking information from the italians, wasn't he? >> i mean, i know you're going to be seeing mr. blair and, you know, you'll be able to ask him because he had the conversation. my sense of it would be that he's simply saying, i'm interested in this italian company. i'm -- do you think i'm wasting my time? and i don't think there's anything more than that. >> the reference to helping a british company was not quite accurate since we are talking about one of mr. murdoch's -- he'd set up his own italian company for the intervention or looking back at news corp. which is -- >> i accept that. but i think more accurately, this is not a transcript. it's an account of the briefing. we're talking about companies with british interests. >> the other area we need to look at, and you cover it in paragraph 15 of your statement,
his media policy generally. you do say in the third sentence of paragraph 15, ironically, the only area where i believe we may have fallen out of this relates to the area of the press itself. and then you refer to the current government. so are you suggesting that through fear of a hostile reaction, possibly even attacks, the labor government 1997 and 2010 were shy of taking on the press and bringing in necessary press performance in terms of regulation in is that the thesis which you say might have some validity? >> i wouldn't date it as far back at 1997, but i think as time wore on, i think a view
developed generally in government, certainly with the prime minister and other senior ministers that there was a real problem. and i think that if -- i certainly, as i say in my statement, was advancing the case. if you think it's a real problem, then we should do something about it. and part of the thinking is to why not to do something about it? i think there were two main reasons. one was the one that the prime minister is talked about this before. that actually the public just wouldn't understand because one of the lines being run at us by the press is we had them all in our pocket. not true, but that's one of the kind of lines that was run against. the public are going to be confused as to why we're suddenly saying this is a problem. and the second thing is the public had elected us to do all sorts of things. press regulation was not one of them. so that was the points of principle. i think there was a political point of pragmatism that tony blair would have taken the view that it was not politically
sensible. and, you know, it's no secret this was one of the few things we argued about. we argued about it over several years. >> we can quite see, mr. campbell, if we go back to 1997, which, of course, was before the death of princess diana, that included anything in the labor party manifesto which would commit that government press regulation -- regulatory reform, might have been a bit ambitious. others may comment on that. by the time we get to 2001 and in particular, 2005, there was a possibility, wasn't there, to include it within the government's legislative program, is that correct? >> well, there was always the possibility. as to whether there was any likelihood, i suspect there wasn't. but some of us were arguing that there should have been. >> and when you refer to concerns about what the media culture was, that's the second sentence of paragraph 16.
>> yeah. >> can we be clear what the analysis is? because it may be set to fall in two parts. there's one, the political analysis which is the culture of negativity, the fusion of news and comment. the press driving the news agenda. all the matters which i know are deep interest and concern to you. can we put them sort of a one side and then the wider concerns about the culture practiced and ethics of the press, harassment, intrusion, breach of privacy. i know the two concerns overlap to some extent. but they are more concerned with the interests of individuals. was your analysis, which is what you referred to on the third line, did it embrace both those concerns, or any one of those concerns? >> both of them. and i think actually my first
witness statement i set out when i talk about a summary of the debit side. news values in which -- whether something is true counts for whether it's t makes a good story. in which the weight given to coverage is not in proportion to the significance of the news matter being reported but whether it fits the agenda of the outlet. lack of anything approaching transparency with respect to the organization. and ineffectual regulation. and a culture dominated by the media themselves which allows inaccuracies, disfort yorngs unfairness, invasion of privacy and dubious practices and a culture in which any attempt to question or check the role of the media is met with denunciations, the motives of those concerned and instant claims that freedom of speech is under threat. some are what i mean by the -- by the culture, i suppose i would throw in there the culture of celebrity. >> yes, you -- it's fair that your first statement covers those matters.
and you are not identifying, are you, a particular section of the press or are you? >> no, i think the culture, i think it's where the center of gravity within the culture has moved to. so i think it covers the broadcasters. it covers the broad sheets and the tabloids as well. just to different varying degrees. >> and we know it's mr. mandelson's view. we've provided for you the piece in the guardian which you wrote in july of last year. it's under tab seven. >> yeah. >> you said the truth is, no issue of power to your principle was involved. we simply chose to be coward because we are too fearful to do otherwise. then he said, david cameron took up by the time tony blair and gordon brown left off. ignoring what happened after may 2010, would you agree with mandelson's view, we simply chose to be coward?
>> i agree with it to some extent. i mean, he said there were no -- there was no issue of principle or priority. i think there were issues of principle and priority which i referred to a moment ago. but i do accept that part of the thinking of the prime minister and some of his colleagues was that to take on the whole of the press at the time when most of the public thought we got a pretty good deal was politically not very sensible. >> it might have been difficult to have approached this on a cross-party basis at any time between 1997 and certainly 201. unless you were to identify a short window of opportunity which opened after the tragic death of princess diana. is that right? >> i think it would have been impossible to get a cross-party agreement on slide.
>> what about that short window of opportunity? >> i'm not sure there really was one. i think that the -- i think interestingly, from chris mullins' diaries as well, he was of the view of short window of opportunity was the same day straight after the election. i think that would have been very difficult for obvious reasons. i don't think there was, even with all the focus there was upon the conduct of the media post diana's death, i don't think there was that political or public appetite. this inquiry is only happening because of the specific set of issues that led to it. these cultural issues have been underlying it for some time. both the media and politics have not really faced up to that. >> do you detect an appetite now to do that? >> no.
if i'm being frank. i thought that -- i thought the michael grove speech to the parliamentary press gallery was part of a political strategy. i don't think that david cameron particularly wants to have to deal with this, i don't think he wants to set up the inquiry. he had to do it in the end. i think he'll be in a very -- i think it will be very difficult for him not to go along with whatever recommendations or at least a very large part of the recommendations, the inquiry produces. but i don't think there is much of an appetite. i hope there is some appetite for the sort of cross-party approach you were talking about with augusta o'donnell earlier. but i wouldn't rule out the possibility of the politicians looking to see how this might affect their position vis-a-vis the next election. i would think there's some appetite for change but i wouldn't overstate it.
i think there's quite a big appetite for the people who are no longer there. >> the general topic of the form of the press, in particular regulation, mr. powell, again page 206 -- see whether this accords with your recollection. we first discussed how we could remedy the failed relationship between the media and failed politics in 2002. in creating the right of reply that exists in other countries. do you recall that? >> i do. >> is he broadly speaking correct about the discussions you were having internally? >> yes. >> then he says in 2003, i -- mr. powell -- commissioned ed
richards in the policy unit to start working on a commission, limits on ownership and privacy law. do you recall that? >> i do. >> we discussed the issue back and forth the next two years but tony never felt the moment was right to speak out, in part because the press would always have the last word, as it was, they would report -- it was they who would report and interpret what he said. does that correctly summarize it? >> yes. >> in 2006, he, mr. blair, now told me he would consider putting surprise legislation in the queen's speech on the subject, but he didn't. >> uh-huh. >> when he finally did make a speech on the media in 2007, that's the famous fell beast speech of june 2007. perhaps didn't receive the attention it deserved. mr. powell says it was too late. is that a fair sort of prospectus of what was
happening? >> i think as i said in my witness statement, political leaders, even when they're the prime minister, even when they're in a very powerful position as tony blair was for most parts of his premiership, you do have to take accounts of the views of your senior colleagues. and there was no real appetite within the government, i think with the possible exception -- i was arguing on this track for some time. john prescott to some extent was. but it wasn't an issue on which the prime minister was feeling huge pressure. and as i said in the statement, there were large number of issues on which he was feeling huge pressure. and i think the other thing to bear in mind is that it's not unreasonable for politicians to take account of political factors. like the fact that if he had gone down this road, the conservative opposition would have been perfectly entitled then to use that to get much better sense of support from the
press. and there was also the whole issue of the -- many of those books had gone into the sometimes troubled relationship with gordon brown. that would have been a factor too. >> of what became the communications act of 2003? that's obviously an extremely complicated piece of legislation. but it passed through parliament at a time when you were still in post, as it were, before your retirement. >> yeah. but i don't -- i don't recall being involved to a huge extent in the detail of policy discussion. and i do remember tester jewell, i believe secretary of state at the time, when she took the job, wanting it to be very, very clear she was going to be in charge of that process. and i do also remember her wanting to be absolutely clear
that she wasn't, as it were, inheriting any kind of implied or unimplied deals with anybody in the media empire. so i don't know that -- i'm sure tess will be able to speak for herself but i do remember that. >> to be clear about, that she was concerned that as part of the inheritance, there might have been some sort of deal, as you say, expressed or implied? she wanted to be sure that there wasn't such a deal. did she have conversations with you about it or conversations which were in your hearing? >> i think she had conversations both with -- most important with tony blair, but also -- i talked to tess as well at that time. >> to be blunt about it, was she concerned to find out whether a deal had been done with mr. murdoch? >> yeah. she just wanted to be absolutely sure that she was not, as it were, going into a policy area where a conclusion had already
been reached based upon whatever. so -- and tony blair was unable to give her that assurance. >> in your hearing? >> well, i know that he did.nab to give her that assurance. >> in your hearing? >> well, i know that he did.ablo give her that assurance. >> in your hearing? >> well, i know that he did. >> one key issue in relation to that act would be the decision to remove the restrictions on foreign media ownership. is that something that you were alive to? >> no, i don't -- im, although i was in charge of tony blair's media strategy, media relations, i was not -- i didn't see myself as a significant voice wind the media policy debate and i don't -- i can't remember what else was going on at that time. i don't remember being too involved in the policy discussions, in the communications on that.
>> when the bill was going through the lords, it encountered some difficulty. and i think david putnam, lord putnam, was at the center of the opposition to it. did you have any discussions with him about that? >> i can't remember. i don't think so. but i may have done, i may have done. i can remember -- i mean, what months in 2003 are we talking about, do you know? >> i think this may have been in -- it would have been in early 2003 as it was passing through the lords. >> right. >> it took some considerable time for this act to become law. >> it's fair to say that after september 11th the year before, i was very, very primarily engaged in foreign policy. i do remember a conversation with david putnam about something else which was an education policy issue and he
may have raised it. i couldn't -- i can't guarantee that. i was aware of his views, though. i think he was expressing them publicly. >> is there anything further you can help us with the passage of that act? >> no. >> particularly the concessions which were made to the law at the end of the day? >> no. >> go back please to paragraphs 51 to 53 of your statement. >> yeah. >> we're going back now to mr. murdoch. on the theme of implied deals. the telephone calls about -- three telephone calls just before the start of the iraq war in march 2003.
>> yeah. >> i think you're being very clear what it's about, the fact that they probably occurred or did occur, but the substance of the calls you can't assist us with, fair to say? >> i can only give you evidence as far as relates to what i wrote in my diary. i don't actually remember the calls but i did write on march the 11th, 2003, about one of the calls. but i don't -- i don't remember the calls themselves, but i've obviously spoken to tony blair about one of them and i've written something in my diary. >> which is the odd, not very clever comment. >> yeah. >> perhaps doesn't throw very much more light upon it. >> well, only -- it does make -- it does appear to suggest that
it wasn't -- >> let's not use the phrase implied express deal. let's use none of those words. let me understand what's going on here. the government was more than just contemplate ing contemplata war. it was obviously understandable if they wanted to discover what the reaction from those who were responsible for our media was going to be. and i could equally understand
why a prime minister might think it of value to seek to get across, in an unvarnished way, unmediated by other press comment, what was really going on in his mind to try and put the best case, which of course is presumably what he was thinking about, for the conclusion he'd reached. but what i'm interested to know is where that leads. is it requesting support? is it neutral as to whether you have support? is it -- what's going on here? do you understand my question? >> yeah. i mean, look. by this point, as you say, it was perfectly clear where this was leading. and equally, it was perfectly clear that most of the media were opposed to what we were doing. and mr. murdoch in favor of what
we were doing. i think it's also fairs to the prime minister, he would have appreciated that support at that time. because it was probably the most difficult decision he had ever had to make. it was -- it was the most difficult period of the time that i was with him, bar none. but as i say in my statement, in terms of -- i wouldn't want to put too much significance, given all else he was dealing with at that time, when he was speaking to presidents and prime ministers around the world the whole time, i wouldn't overstate the significance of a couple of phone calls with rupert murdoch. in terms of what i think is going on here -- as i say, i'm relying on what i've written in my diary. what i think is going on is rupert murdoch has placed the call and tony blair has taken that call and rupert murdoch is just wanting to have a chat about what's going on.
i go back to the point i made earlier, one of the things i think makes murdoch different to some of the other media and some of what you saw last week, he's a news man. he's interested in what's going on in the world. so i think that's what's going on but i can't help you beyond that because i don't remember the call. but certainly at that time, it was -- it was a very -- he was in a very, very difficult position. and we were all -- in terms of the decisions that were being taken and the policy that was being pursued, it was hugely unpopular. we knew that. most of the rest of the media, either the papers on the left because they were opposed to the war, the bbc because of the dispute we'd got into with them, the right-wing papers, most of them because they hated tony blair by then, it was a pretty difficult media landscape. and whether rupert murdoch was
kind of just signaling, well, kind of the last one standing, i don't know. so that's all i can really give you is what i've put in my diary on that day. but there were two -- according to the cabinet office, there were only -- between 2002 and 2005, tony blair spoke to murdoch six times on the telephone. three of those calls were during this period. and i think it's a combination of rupert murdoch trying to find out what's going on and also probably just saying, you know, we're going to support you on this. does that help? >> why would he need to do that? >> well, he wouldn't. he wouldn't. but i think it's -- again, i can't really help you beyond what i've put in my statement. but they -- i think it was the biggest issue anywhere in the world at the time. >> i understand that.
but it's -- i suppose it goes back to the whole question of the the perception of the reason why this intensely difficult time which you've described and which we all remember simply from what we were watching and reading. we weren't involved in these decisions. and i can understand his talking to world leaders about this phenomenally important decision. that three times, he should feel it significant enough to chew the custody, talk to, listen to, one newspaper proprietor. and it's what it leads -- it's whether it is appropriate to draw any conclusions about the relationship. because that's i suppose worth thinking about.
>> my statement in terms of tony blair would see murdoch, it was usually for a board meeting. i suspect having been in london during that time, would he see him for a cup of did tea, a half hour chat? he probably would. as i said before, he's a very, very significant player in the media landscape. but i don't think it's -- put it this way, i was, if anything, surprised at how few phone calls there had been when the cabinet office produced this record. not that -- as you seem to think, so many. >> it's not so many, it's just the fact of them against all the other competing demands upon his time. he knew what the view of "the sun" was. they'd made it abundantly clear. he didn't have to speak to mr. purchase dak, he could pick up a
copy of "the times." >> pick up a copy of any of the papers around the world. >> yes, yes. >> yeah. no, i can see why you ask that. but i think that -- it is important as well to remember that -- we're looking at this now. you're asking me to -- people are making -- it's odd that i don't remember something i've written about, but i just don't. for me as well, there was so much else going on at that time. but it doesn't strike me as that odd. not least because by then, i think it's fair to say tony blair had very few strong supporters in the media left. and so whether one of these calls came from him to -- i have no idea. i have no idea. whether one of them was actually about placing the call, i don't know. i don't know. >> well, there's a limit to how far we can go with it and i recognize that.
but i read into what you're saying to me that i should not read too much into the fact that the worthiest cause, notwithstanding the pressure on the prime minister's time and all the other pressures he's facing. >> yeah because even at times like this, he would have spoken to all sorts of people. and i think it's -- no, i wouldn't -- i wouldn't read too much into it, to be honest with you. and i know that one of your previous witnesses has said that, you know, without rupert murdoch's support we couldn't have done the iraq war. complete nonsense. tony blair believed in what we were doing and the government supported what was being done and so did parliament. and that was way, way, way more important than any newspaper support. >> all right. ient then to take just a break. >> all rise.
>> i think you want to correct something you said in relation to the five pledges in the labor party -- >> yeah, five pledges, i checked, it was not. but it was announced before the article. >> okay. i have 53 of your statements. the back door point. you say, there tends to be a media presence in downing street most of the time. there's no particular need or desire to advertise a meeting. makes sense to avoid the front door. but not transparent, that, some would say. >> i'd accept that. >> then you say, slightly tongue in cheek, partly our thinking was for the rest of the media,
murdoch was uniquely newer ral jurisdiction. >> it's not tongue in cheek, it's what we thought. rue better murdoch went into the building, you started a whole flurry of what's he doing there, what are they talking about? i made the point when i left in 2003, whenever i went back, i tended to go in the same door. it's just a way of avoiding attention, i guess. but i take your point. >> do you think there's something about the fact that we now make it -- we, the government, now make their links with senior proprietors much clearer, that you're going to get rather more concerned that some proprietors get rather more access than others, and that's not fair? >> i would hope that what comes out of all this is not just a greater openness and transparency that you were talking about this morning.
but also perhaps a greater distance in between the two sets of people. now, i think, as i say in my statement, i think there is a real public interest in politics and other walks of life, having relationships with the media that allow them to debate, be challenged, so forth. but i think we could get to a situation where there wasn't this sense of it being rips that get -- that just get mangled. the political, the personal, the commercial. i can see why you might think they're all just interwoven. >> well, it's a topic i would certainly welcome your view on. but we'll let mr. jay take his own course. then if it's not covered we'll come back to it. >> so there's one further point that is a footnote to page 634 in one of your diaries. you describe him as rupert
murdoch's economic guru, often described as rupert's representative on earth. the second point i'm sure is flippant. the first point, murdoch's economic guru. you were making a serious point there, weren't you, mr. campbell? >> i promise it's not passing it off. i didn't write all the footnotes. i think he was an economic adviser. guru, one of those words. but you know, he was close to him. he was close to him. still is, i think. >> when mr. murdoch was not around and someone was talking to mr. stilt, is there a sense you were talking to mr. murdoch in some way? >> no, i wouldn't say that. i wouldn't say that. he wasn't, as it were, a spokesman. so no, i wouldn't know that. >> tell us about mrs. brooks. obviously we've seen recently -- you say in your statement that
you attended i think both her weddings -- >> no, it's only the reception of the first, the wedding of the second. and just on the first one, i was, as it were, independently friendly with the husband. >> would you describe it as a friendship or a relationship born out of circumstances? >> i think it's difficult, once you're at a certain level in politics -- in fact, again, in one of these books, tony blair and i have a discussion about this -- i think it's difficult to develop friendships with people from any walk of life, where they might feel they can get something from you. i think we were friendly, very friendly, and i liked rebekah. but i think friendship overstates it.
most of the friends i have are journalists and people i used to work with when i was a journalist. but i liked her and obviously because of my job and her job, we spoke a lot. >> many people have observed and some witnesses have said these a consummate networker. is that something -- >> yeah. and i think she would see that as part of her job. >> in the late 1990s, did you assess that her star, as it were, was clearly in the ascendancy, and therefore it was important that mr. blair and the labor government become close to her? >> no, not particularly. i think she was obviously very bright. you always had a -- i had a sense very early on rupert murdoch really liked her. and i think within the rupert murdoch setup, you know, there's that sense of, as it were,
bestowing his favor upon. and i think rebekah was a rising star. and i think we would have ensured that tony blair, as i say in my statement, right across the piece of all the media type, not just news international, that over time he would see most of the key people. i think that's what we did. >> on paragraph 64 of her statement she referred to being almost a constant presence in and around mr. blair's senior cabinet ministers and special advisers. would you agree with that assessment? >> i mean, look. even in all the papers, the prime minister and the government are probably the most covered people, even in the tabloids. so in a sense, what i would say is we were a constant part of her life, everybody else's life. i wouldn't overstate that. and it's -- no, i think
that's -- i think that does overstate it. >> in terms of your mobile phone contact with her, we know mr. blair didn't have a mobile phone. about how often a week was it? >> that i would speak to rebekah? >> yes. >> when she was editor? some weeks none, some weeks every day. it would depend -- really would depend what was happening in the news agenda. average, probably once or twice. >> if she wanted personal access to either mr. blair or a senior cabinet minister, did she tend to organize that through you or not? >> cabinet ministers i can't speak for. in terms of tony blair, probably through me or angie hunter or sally morgan or one of the people around the prime minister. >> did she manipulate the increasingly fractious relationship between mr. brown and mr. blair? >> i don't think so, no. in fact, i think she was -- i mean, it was a very difficult
part of my job. the fact that the press were writing about the difficulties in that relationship all of the time and i was having to be out there as an advocate for the government, explaining what we were trying to, do focusing on the important things, so forth. no, i don't think she did. i think -- i knew she spoke to gordon and the people who worked for him and perhaps they sometimes said things to her that they wouldn't have said to us. >> was she increasingly seen as having influence over mr. murdoch? >> i think i -- my sense always was the most influential person in terms of influence upon murdoch was rupert murdoch. was she increasingly important in the organization? yes. >> were ministers afraid of her? >> i don't -- i'd say ththey sh
have been. >> do you think they were? >> i don't think so. one of the reasons why, even though it's fairs to i think i'm somewhat png at national now, rebekah was always very, very straightforward to deal with. there were a number of stories i dealt with her, very difficult for individual ministers. robin cook was one. steven buyers was another. where she was always -- we had a sense of, i had a job to do, she had a job to do, but we could be straight with each other. >> was "the sun" ever fed stories by you? >> yeah. so were other papers. i would say we were one of the prime sources for every media organization in the country. >> so it wasn't a question of prioritizing "the sun," you feel, it was just part of your
job to -- >> well, look. most -- we made a lot of changes from 1997, the biggest of which was putting the briefings on the record. most of my contact with the media was on the record-briefing. every single paper thought we favored other papers. "the mirror" thought we favored "the sun," "the sun," thought we favored "the mirror," "the telegraph" thought we favored "the times." you wouldn't win, really. >> in terms of "the mirror," at least 60 meetings he had with mr. blair. when mr. blair was prime minister. and you were often present at those meetings. would that be right? >> it might be. i think piers would also accept some of those would be receptions and what does that work out? six a year? is that a lot? piers was the editor of the one labor supporting newspaper. there was an annual lunch that
we had at the labor party conference. but certainly i would be present at some of the -- most of those meetings, probably. >> obviously they were on-site. save of course in relation to the iraq war when mr. morgan in particular was hostile. was it a question of enabling "the mirror" to put the best possible gloss on stories? >> this whole thing about spin is overcome. the public aren't stupid. most of the presence of the prime minister in people's lives would be what they saw on the television. and when they saw him on the news and the house of commons. and so most of the discussions i would have had with piers would actually -- i mean, certainly during the iraq war, we had a fairly fundamental disagreement. and other situations, he would be and was often angry because he thought we favored "the sun," just as "the sun" sometimes
thought we favored "the mirror." he was an editor, i was the prime minister's director of communications and strategy. it was, you know, an up and down but pretty good relationship. >> paragraph 46 of your statement, you deal with contacts with other parties as well. interestingly, you recall that. the middle of 46, page 00821. which his wife complained express newspapers intruded on their privacy. >> as i say, an irony lost on all but her and her husband. >> i'm sure this is an example of genuine amnesia. but i'm not suggesting for one
moment that you might be misleading us. but anyway. paragraph 26, please. >> 26? >> 26 now. moving away from proprietors. moving to the more general. let me just ask a question about them. there's obviously much, much more contact, understandable between proprietors and senior editors with very senior government ministers and people such as yourself. than there would be for other interest groups. is there a risk, do you think, that that access can indeed work the other way so that therefore,
there is a risk, which has to be guarded against -- i'm not saying it can't be guarded against -- that their particular interests, and that could be commercial or personal, by which i mean the paper, or it could be that which they are campaigning -- achieves a greater prominence than would be achieved by somebody in a quite different situation who doesn't have the same sort of access? approximate absolutely. i totally accept that. >> is that a problem? >> yeah, i think it is a problem. i think it means that the interests of one section of the national makeup does have greater access than others who probably should have just as good access to government.
so i think that the fact of businesses owning media does give them a disproportionate access. i don't ca i don't think that's the same thing as power but i think that gives them disproportionate access. >> once you've got disproportionate access, the risk is -- >> yeah. >> -- that the influence is that much more potent. >> i agree with that. >> now, using your experience, both as a journalist and as somebody who's worked in government and the rather higher grade view you've been able to take of life since you ceased, how can that be fixed? >> i think openness is an important thing.
and transparency. so when mr. jay said it's a bit odd they come through the back door, i think that's right. i think that -- i think i'm right in saying that, for example, the american president's diary is published. so that people can see what he's doing with his time. but i do think that it has to be -- it can only be fixed -- i say this when i address the point in my statement -- i think it can only be fixed if both sides of this acknowledge the problem is not just the other side. there is a tendency for those of us, if you like, on the political side to say, it's all your fault. there's an even stronger tendency on this side to say, it's all your fault. i think we can get beyond that. we're not going to get anywhere. so openness, a greater explanation i think from the -- see, i think the politicians have done a very, very bad job
in standing up for themselves in terms what was their legitimate role is, what their legitimate functions are, how they have to engage with the media because if they don't, they're going to get blown away. so there's got to be a proper reckoning of each other's power and each other's status. and i think that where we've got to is a position where some elements of the media kindly think they're above politics. and they're even even above the law. >> it's the point -- slightly different, though. i suggest to you it might be possible to articulate it slightly differently by saying this. that if the story's big enough, the rules don't count. >> again, anything to get a story. >> well, it's actually not quite -- >> a lot of the phone hacking stuff wasn't about big stories at all. >> i agree with that. and i'm not actually talking about what might be criminal.
i'm talking about a slightly different idea. possibly i'm borrowing mr. morgan's phrase. i'm taking it out of context. let me start again. let me say this. we, the press, are not necessarily bound by the same rules that govern other behavior. approximate extension of that, going back to what we were talking about a moment earlier, the sense that they don't think anything will happen to them as a result of going beyond those boundaries. because the political class, the police as we've seen, and other parts of our national life, don't treat them in the same way as they treat other organizations and people. and i think that's the bit we need to talk about fixing, that
has to be fixed. >> let me add one other element to it. because i am going to ask you about fixing it. the other element is that whereas the press will look to hold col pigss to account, they'll look to help educational authorities, the judiciary to account, with rare exceptions, nobody is holding what they are doing to account. >> correct. correct. and i've addressed that in parts and when we get on to the future -- >> yes, yes. >> but i think that is the point. they sit in judgment on and expect openness and transparency from every other part of our national life, apart from themselves. and that's i think why they're
in the mess they're in. >> we have moved on. before you left the proprietors i wanted to elicit your view and i've got it. >> right. >> i know you dealt with this first in your statement, the concept of newspapers and power that i was seeking to bring the strands together at the end of this little section of your evidence. paragraph 26008 and 9. >> yep. >> paragraph 26 in terms of daniel easily statement of your view. what about the thesis that we've had advanced by mrs. brooks, mr. day, various others, newspapers simply derive their power from their readers. do you agree with that or not? >> no. >> why not? >> partly they do. but for example, some of the
smallest papers are the most influential. i think within any newspaper can at a certain point pick up a campaign, provided they do it in a professional and sophisticated way, they can make that campaign work. so i don't think it's just a question of circulation. and also, i think that the newspaper editors make huge assumptions about their readers. and describe them almost as a homogeneous block. when rebekah talked about following their readers in shifting from supporting labor to supporting conservatives, or back the other way, the idea their readers are sitting there, moving in the same direction at the same pace, is nonsense. they've made that decision. then through their coverage they try to lead their readers in the same direction. >> i think perhaps in response to a question i asked, mrs. brooks accepted there was an
element of leadership there. >> yeah. yeah. so -- and they're very good at marketing themselves. "the daily mail" presents itself as the voice of middle england. "the sun" presents itself as the voice of the kind of white working class man. "the guardian," the liberal intel gent yeah. that's the perfect thing for them to do. but i don't think that's in a sense where what you call their power necessarily comes from. i think it's a useful thing for them to say. i'm not sure it's necessarily right. >> a reader wouldn't of course necessarily have a view on a particular issue, especially of some complexity, until the agenda's set to describe, at which point opinion's moving in the direction the paper's taken.
looking at paragraph 26. you say, your own assessment, this is three lines down, is they have more influence on the terms of the debate than actual power to dictate policy. >> yeah. >> so the determine terms of the debate were into areas such as the culture of negativity and matters you've outlined elsewhere. >> it's also what's important. i mean, a news bulletin running order is a set of decisions that are made by executives. if a -- at the moment, pornography on the internet, for example. "the daily mail," very involved in a campaign. perfectly legitimate, serious issue. is that more likely to make the politicians think that they might look at it, try to address it? yes. is there anything wrong with that?
no. but that's what i mean by the terms of the day. i don't think they will necessarily then decide the policy. but i think in terms of where the debate is, what is deemed to be important. i say elsewhere in my statement, for example, the fact that issues like industrial action are almost always covered from disruption. the welfare debate. that's what i mean by setting the terms of a debate. >> although the terms of the debate having been set, the political response which is policy, may reflect on that, may it not? >> sorry? what do you mean by that? >> if the newspapers have set the -- >> yeah. >> then the political response, which is the setting of policy, may have been determined by the terms of the debate. would you agree? >> it might have been, but not if the policy-making processes
are working properly. in other words, you can get -- i think it's always important to differentiate between a media-driven campaign on something which they say is important, which they say needs addressing, then whether in reality it does when all the other issues are there. i think it is important to accept -- i think this goes for david cameron, gordon brown, tony blair -- that the amount of time and energy that they, not just the people who work for them, but they as prime ministers have to devote and dedicate to kind of dealing with what are ultimately media management issues. it's grown. it's grown and it's growing because of the way the media has developed. i think that's a problem too. >> then you continue, they only have power if politicians let them have power. >> yeah. >> by which of course you mean it is within the gift of politicians to prevent press having power.
but that might of course have obvious ramifications for free press. it also presupposes politicians are not going to yield to the obvious influences and powers which might intrude on their decision-making. would you agree with that? >> well, i think a lot of this started under margaret thatcher. i think that newspapers were given a sense of power. the numbers that we see, the peerages and the knighthoods and the sense they were almost part of her team. i think it changed under john major. i think when we were in power, i think that we -- i think we maybe did give the media too much of a sense of their own place within the political firm at. when we should have challenged it more. >> talking about the conferment of power, one of the reasons why the newspapers have such power is the good reason you've identified, namely free press, i
understand that. but the bad reasons, and you list three of those at the end of paragraph 26, you refer to the patronage system. the evidence on that you set out. but then the second and the third aspects. the privileged access governments of both colored allowed, the point lord leveson made, the reasons politicians allowed press to have power. is that right? >> yes. >> the efforts made to win media support. which is again another aspect of the same phenomenon, isn't it? >> yeah. i think we might disagree on the word power. because as i say, ultimately the politicians do have the power. i think all three there are factors within this that have led to a change that is probably unhealthy. >> of course the terms influence and power are not synonyms. one is weaker than the other.
you prefer influence rather than power though some would say they're different points on the same spectrum. would you agree with that if. >> no, i think power is a different thing. i don't think newspapers have power. i think politicians have real power. but i think that -- hopefully what comes out of this is a resetting of that balance as it becomes much clearer where power does lie. >> one prefers to use the term power in relation to elected politicians because that's what we confer on them. one doesn't like to use that term in relation to an unelected organ such as the press. really it's just a play on words, isn't it? >> no, i don't think so. if you look at decisions david cameron is making now, whether it was military action in libya
or troops en route to afghanistan or spending on the health service or tax levels, newspapers can't do those things. and that is real power, which he has invested in him because he's the prime minister. newspapers can influence all of those debates. i don't think it is power. >> i'll move to a different topic now. >> maybe slightly -- different. but i wonder whether it is not rather more than mere influence. i don't limit the meaning of the word influence. because what newspapers have is what is longevity. and politicians tend not to have longevity. so mr. murdoch has been there or
thereabouts for 40 years, which is a very, very long time. you make the point that he is the most powerful media owner, and then you describe mr. dacre as the most powerful newspaper editor. but doesn't that longevity give them rather more than influence? i agree, it is not the power to change the law or the way in which this country is run. but it is a very real form, at the very strongest end of influence. would that be fair? >> yeah, i think in rupert murdoch's case it would be because of the point you make. if you sort of analyze power/influence year by year
over the last four decades, as you say he's been a big player throughout that time. for example, i can remember being struck once in a discussion with george bush asking what rupert murdoch was like because he never met him. which i found quite surprising. and whether he's met him since, i don't know. but that was -- i think when rupert murdoch went to the committee and said, i wish these guys would leave me alone, i think that was a little disingenuous because i think he is interested in powerful people, people who make the decisions, make the news. i see it as a different sort of power. i think political power -- i think the political class is kind of to some extent ceded too much on this ground and needs to get it back. >> in other aspects of the relationship between the media and politicians and obviously